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York Catholic tops Delone for District 3 title

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HERSHEY - When the York Catholic girls' basketball team had its streak of 10 straight District 3 titles broken last season, head coach Kevin Bankos had a message for his returning players.

Time to start a new streak.

On Thursday, that streak began. The Irish beat Delone Catholic, 57-46, at Giant Center to win the Class 3A championship and the program's 11th district title in the past 12 years. It was the third time York Catholic (20-6) beat the Squirettes (18-7) this season.

For the York Catholic players who experienced last season's 54-40 loss to Camp Hill in the Class 2A title game, Thursday's win was particularly sweet.

"I think it motivated us a lot," star junior guard Kate Bauhof said. "We just all wanted to do it together, because we're all so close off the court. We were all just so excited at the end."

While the Irish entered Giant Center determined to capture another district title, they were also playing for another accomplishment most of them didn't know about. The win gave Bankos his 300th career victory, a milestone the coach wasn't aware he was approaching until last week.

Still, Bankos was quick to put the focus on his players and not himself.

"I didn't know anything about it nor do I really care," Bankos said. "I will care when I stop coaching and it's one I will never forget, but there's a guy down there (Delone Catholic head coach Gerry Eckenrode) who has 400 wins. What it means is that you have some really great players and really good assistants."

Similar to this season's previous matchups, Thursday's game was determined by the difference in the backcourts. While Delone Catholic got just eight points from its starting guards, York Catholic received a combined 33 from Bauhof and Gina Citrone.

As usual, Bauhof put on a show by shooting 7-of-14 from the field and 10-of-10 from the free throw line on her way to a game-high 26 points. After not scoring in the third quarter, Bauhof nailed a 3-pointer to start the fourth and tallied 13 in the final quarter.

"I thought we competed well, they just have Kate Bauhof and we don't, it's as simple as that," Eckenrode said. "We tried to take her out of the game, but she's just a fantastic player. It's awful hard to take a Division I player out of the game."

While the Squirettes were able to use their size advantage to score down low, they once again weren't able to shoot consistently enough to hang with York Catholic. Delone led after the first quarter and trailed by just three heading into the fourth, but weren't able to retake the lead down the stretch. Freshman forward Maddie Clabaugh led the team with 12 points and sophomore Bradi Zumbrum scored 11.

Despite beating him for a district title for the fifth time in the past seven years, Bankos praised Eckenrode for guiding the Squirettes to the championship game after losing two starters to injury this season. Both York Catholic and Delone Catholic will compete in the PIAA tournament that starts next week.

"(Eckenrode would) be my pick for coach of the year," Bankos said. "He convinced a bunch of kids that they were able to play at this level and get to this stage. The way his kids respond, that's coaching."

Past champions

Here's a look at past District 3 champions in York Catholic and Delone Catholic's classification. The PIAA expanded to six classifications this season, pushing both teams from Class 2A to Class 3A. 

2017: York Catholic (Class 3A) 
2016: Camp Hill 
2015: York Catholic
2014: York Catholic 
2013: York Catholic 
2012: York Catholic 
2011: York Catholic
2010: York Catholic
2009: York Catholic
2008: York Catholic
2007: York Catholic
2006: York Catholic
2005: Trinity
2004: Delone Catholic
2003: Delone Catholic
2002: Delone Catholic